Businesses fear they could be forced to close after residents in the flats above them were told to leave over structural concerns.

Shops and eateries beneath Cygnet House and Plover House in York Way, Meriden, say they were visited on Friday (February 9) and told assessments that could lead to their closure are due to be carried out.

Residents of the flats upstairs have already been told they must move into temporary accommodation by Sunday (February 18) and may not be able to return home “for up to 12 months”.

It comes after Watford Community Housing, which manages the building, received a detailed report from engineers stating that the building has “structural defects” last week.

Iman Dehghani, who co-owns JetMaid Services with his wife, said they have had “sleepless nights” since getting the news.

“It’s going to affect us massively,” he added. “It put us in a really bad position, we don’t know where to go or what to do.

“Who is going to pay for my mortgage, for my life and my kids if the shop closes – I don’t know how we would pay the money we borrowed to open.”

Watford Observer: Iman Dehghani.Iman Dehghani. (Image: Magda Dehghani)

Latest article here: Meriden turmoil: How we got here and what happens next

Ahead of the verdict, more business owners told the Watford Observer that not only do they expect to have to shut, but that their custom has already been slashed amid “panic” in the area.

Chiqizza owner Ali Bakiran said customers have not been coming in for collections because “people are panicking” over potential safety risks, adding “you can’t do business like this”.

Meanwhile the Meriden Kitchen fears that even if it is able to stay open, it will struggle without the families upstairs who make up a large part of their regular customer base.

Watford Observer: Meriden Kitchen owner Battal Ustek.Meriden Kitchen owner Battal Ustek. (Image: Battal Ustek)

The view from the café is that closure appears more likely than not, based on conversations with workers while prior inspections took place.

Meriden Fish Bar owner Donald Langford added that businesses “have had nothing but problems” at the location, with previous issues around the structure, bills, and particularly nearby parking already taking their toll.

Watford Observer: Donald Langford (left) with co-owner Ferhat Cicek (right).Donald Langford (left) with co-owner Ferhat Cicek (right). (Image: Meriden Fish Bar)

“I don’t know what is going to happen now, but it's more headaches for the shops and another nail in the coffin,” he said.

A Watford Community Housing spokesperson said: “Our contractor’s engineers have been clear in their advice that it is safe for the retailers to continue operating and trading.

“We will need access to carry out additional investigative works, and we are in individual conversations with the retailers to keep them informed.”

Watford Observer: Cygnet House.Cygnet House. (Image: Battal Ustek)

They added: “We have made the difficult decision to move all residents out of their homes, so that our contractors can carry out the intrusive surveys and construction works in the building.

“This is a precautionary but necessary measure.

“Since Friday and throughout the weekend, our team have been liaising directly with those affected. We are continuing to work with residents, to find new accommodation for each of the households, and to minimise any disruption."